A firestorm erupted earlier this month after CNN’s Soledad O’Brien questioned blogger-turned-venture capitalist Michael Arrington and others about why more black entrepreneurs don’t receive venture capital financing in Silicon Valley. While the public squabble probably didn’t do much to solve the problem, it did highlight an issue which is hardly a secret in the halls of venture capital offices across the country.
That is: The venture capital business is primarily made up of white men.
Now, a new survey released this week from Dow Jones and the National Venture Capital Association provides more insights into the issue. And while the survey showed some improvement in diversification — at least among newer professionals — it is still very much an industry being driven by white men. (Typically who’ve graduated from schools such as Stanford, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania and MIT).
According to the survey, 89 percent of venture capitalists are male and 87 percent are white. That compares to the 2008 survey which (using different methodologies) found that 86 percent were male, and 88 percent were white. There was more diversity among those professionals who’ve worked in the industry for less than five years. In that group, 77 percent were white; 17 percent were Asian; and three percent were African American or Latino.
“Ideally, we would like to see a professional base that reflects the entrepreneurs in which we invest, one that is robust and diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, nationality and age,” said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA.
The Venture Census Survey included responses from more than 600 people in the industry, including CFOs, investors, administrative staffers and marketers.
–21 percent of venture capital professionals have degrees in economics; 14 percent have degrees in business administration; and 13 percent have degrees in engineering.
–40 percent of those working in investment roles say they work more than 60 hours per week, and nine percent travel more than eight nights per month.
–15 percent of VCs once served as CEO or founder of a venture-backed startup.
–85 percent of venture capital professionals use LinkedIn; 62 percent use Facebook; and 30 percent use Twitter.